I thank the Deputy for his question. The Government's national broadband plan will provide high speed broadband access of a minimum of 30 Mbps to all premises in Ireland regardless of location. The plan has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector of €1.7 million per day for the past four years in order to bring broadband of at least 30 Mbps to 1.4 million, or 61%, of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland. This footprint is expanding.
In April, I signed a commitment agreement with Eir, which will provide broadband to an additional 300,000 premises in rural areas on a commercial basis. Eir has committed to concluding this work over the next 85 weeks at an average of passing one premises every minute of every working day. My Department is monitoring this roll-out.
There are approximately 89,000 premises in County Kildare, some 13,000, or 15%, of which are located in the amber area on the State intervention map. Approximately 76,000, or 85% of premises, are located in the commercial blue area and will be served by commercial operators, including some 9,000, or 12%, under the Eir commitment agreement. Information on Eir's planned rural deployment is available at fibrerollout.ie.
A formal procurement process is in train to select a company or companies to roll out a new high speed broadband network within the State intervention area, comprising approximately 540,000 premises, or 23%, across the country. The timeframe for procurement continues to be dependent on a range of factors, including the complexities that may be encountered by the procurement team and bidders during the procurement process.
Shorter term measures to enhance broadband availability include the implementation of the mobile broadband and task force recommendations. I have signed regulations allowing ComReg to proceed with the 2017 allocation of spectrum in the 3.6 GHz radio spectrum band. This will provide an 86% increase in the total spectrum available for mobile and fixed wireless services.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
In addition, I have secured a €8 million provision for RTE to allow it to free up the 700 MHz spectrum band. This band is particularly suited to rural environments where the signal can travel long distances. These initiatives should assist in enhancing the quality of mobile phone and data services across Ireland, particularly in rural areas.
My Department website, www.dccae.gov.ie, and www.broadband.gov.ie provides comprehensive information, including broadband roll-out per county information, a copy of the Eir commitment agreement and information on the mobile and broadband task force.